Architects Rick Fawley and Mike Bryant were friendly with each other in the early 1990s, each running their own companies.
Then one night in 1994, in a conversation over beers at the Lost Kangaroo in downtown Bradenton, they decided to form a company together. That company, Lakewood Ranch-based Fawley|Bryant Architecture, ultimately grew into one of the largest independently owned architecture, design and urban planning firms on the Gulf Coast.
“A great part of our partnership is Rick and I were very different,” says Bryant. “I tell people we were like oil and vinegar. You shake it up and together we had something pretty good.”
Fawley died Sept. 2. He was 65.
Fawley, say several people who knew him, was always the kind of guy with a hug and a smile, and he had a silly sense of humor; Bradenton Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Sharon Hillstrom, who knew Fawley for nearly a decade, calls him one of the most likable people she ever worked with. “He would hang around after meetings, when most people just want to go home, and would talk about what's going on,” Hillstrom says. “He was always interested.”
Fawley|Bryant, with about 20 employees, had $4.64 million in revenues in 2014, up 48.7% from $3.12 million in 2013. Recent projects include work on the Bradenton City Center; multiple projects at IMG Academy; the Manatee County judicial center; and renovations at McKechnie Field and Pirate City.
Fawley had a minor illness, Bryant says, but the cause of his death was unknown. Fawley's wife, Coni Fawley, died earlier this year after a lengthy battle with cancer.
“Sometimes losses hit you really hard,” says Mary Dougherty-Slapp, executive director of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange. “This is one of those.”